November 19th is a special day in our household. It is the anniversary of the day our adoption agency called to inform us that we had become parents. Below is my account of what transpired 10 years ago today.
November 19, 2003
On the morning of the 19th I was frantic to hear news but had convinced myself that I wouldn’t hear anything. We had sent our paperwork 9 months prior to the Chinese office that handles adoption. In China, the office of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) matches couples with a child. Couples don’t pick babies off a profile list unless the child has a special need. “The Call”, as it is known, is when one gets a call from their adoption agency letting them know that China has matched them with a baby. This is also known as getting a referral. China typically releases referrals in batches by month at the same time to all agencies in the United States.
I knew that most of the other agencies had received their referrals. I was joyful yet skeptical at the same time. Problems do arise and it wasn’t unheard of to have a referral delayed for one reason or another.
I had agreed with H at the beginning of the process that he would be the one to get the call and he would then tell me. His rational was that HE wanted to be the one to tell me in person and not for me to hear it over the phone from a person I didn’t know. Actually, I think it was all a ploy for him to get the news first.
At around 9:30am he called to remind me not to get on the computer and read the China adoption message boards that I was addicted to. I thought it was a little odd so I asked if he had heard anything. He said no, he just didn’t want me to get my hopes up and be on an emotional rollercoaster the entire day as I read about people being matched with their babies. It took all of my will power to NOT turn that dang computer on. The phone rang. It was my friend, Susan. She was also using the same agency as we were and would be in our travel group. This was our conversation:
Me: Well what?
Me: Well what?
S: Oh, ummm.
I can’t remember what she said next but I do remember being very confused. I think I said something like “My little friend, H (my husband), must be hiding something.”
I called H immediately and asked if he got a call from our agency.
Me: No calls?
H: NO calls. I have to go back to work. <Click.>
I dropped the phone and started sobbing. Big long sobs. 10 years of unexplained infertility. Sob. 10 years of watching both of my Sister-In-Laws have babies and babies and babies. Sob Sob Sob. Every pregnancy magnified the great sorrow for what we deeply longed for. Sob Sob Sob Sob. Why, we wondered, had we been passed over? Sob Sob Sob Sob Sob.
I just knew our referral must have been left out. There HAD to have been a problem. I called our agency. I asked if referrals came in. Yes. Were any left out? No. I thanked her and hung up.
Relieved, I decided to go grocery shopping to get my mind off of everything. Great idea. I walked up and down the aisles like a zombie. I remember thinking to myself:
“This is the last time I’ll grocery shop without knowing what my daughter looks like.”
“This is the last time I’ll decide between peanut butter brands without knowing what my daughter looks like.”
“This is the last time I’ll push a wobbly wheel cart…”
I did that with everything.
When I got home I noticed H’s car in the driveway. Hmmmm, something was up. H home in the middle of a work day? Something was definitely up. I’m smart like that. I decided to play it cool and pretend I didn’t notice he was home. I hauled in all of the groceries and tried to act all cool. I didn’t say a word until each of the dozen bags were completely unloaded.
Me: So, have you heard anything?
Me: (Now furious) You mean to tell me you DIDN’T get THE call?
Me: (Now very squeaky and truly believing him) Really?
H: Honey, I really haven’t heard anything.
Me: (My mood swung back to pissed in an instant) Well, I’m going to call
them!! (I started to march over to where we keep our address book.)
H: Well, where’s the phone?
Where’s the phone? Where’s the phone? What the frickin’ frick does that mean? Quickly, I turned around to face him in order to give him my “what the f*** have you been smoking” look.
H: Take a look at the daughter God picked for you.
In his hands he held up a 8.5 x 11 piece of paper he had printed Tootie’s photo on. Everything turned into slow motion. Again, I found myself on my knees sobbing.
My daughter. Our daughter.
So that’s what she looks like. She kind of looks like me.
She has that same goofy look I get. There she is.
Oh, look at her little hands. Her feet. Those lips. That fuzzy head.
Oh, look at that silly stuffed monkey.
From the moment I saw her I couldn’t imagine her looking any different. You would think I would be terribly mad at H. for putting me through all of that. I wasn’t. It didn’t matter. All of it melted away in an instant.
We hadn’t been passed over after all. I was in love. Nothing else mattered.
We had a daughter.